A first Birthday meal at The Oakley Arms, Harrold

Boy eating a plate of sticky toffee pudding topped with vanilla ice cream

Firstly, sorry not sorry for the flurry of foodie posts. January is when it’s both my birthday and Ash’s and nothing screams celebration more than a good meal out. Although looking at the photo above, you’d think it was Alfie’s birthday with the size of that pudding!

Secondly, is it even your birthday if the celebrations don’t go on for at least a week? Mine was a fortnight ago now, but that didn’t stop me getting the party started the weekend before and then prolonging it for as long as possible!

Our first meal out was just the three of us, a nice cosy Saturday night at the pub. Ash had booked a table at somewhere I’ve been meaning to go for ages – The Oakley Arms in Harrold, Bedfordshire. It was about 40-45 minutes from us, but well worth it… and it’s actually run by one of my friends from secondary school! I know, what are the chances we both wound up this way?

The night that we ate, there had been a big party during the day, so the restaurant was still quite busy. We had a lovely bay window table in the Bakery Bar – which was much quieter and cosier. During the day, there’s a lovely cake counter – and Alfie enjoyed reading the names of all the cakes that we missed. My waistline is very glad we aren’t just around the corner… I often see the latest bakes on Instagram, and they are dreamy!

Dinner plate of cod with turmeric potatoes, in a spiced broth, topped with broccoli and microcress
After saying I wouldn’t drink in January and only lasting three days (supposedly), I ordered a large glass of rosé, while looking at the menu. There’s a decent children’s menu and straight away, Alfie knew what he was going to have – the cheeseburger (minus the cheese!). The decision was much harder for us because everything sounded so good. The menu frequently changes, and the pub uses locally-sourced ingredients, as well as making their own breads and desserts (amongst other things) on-site.

I was actually torn between four dishes and in the end, went for the pan-roasted cod and crispy mussels in a ginger and coconut broth, with turmeric potatoes. It was sensational – and the crispy mussels were a real gamechanger. The broth was so flavoursome, complementing the fish well. It must have been good as I’m normally a notoriously slow eater and I felt like I demolished it! And better still, didn’t feel overly full so I could manage one of the delicious desserts.

Dinner plate of braised beef cheek with mashed potatoes and carrots
Ash had the braised beef cheek with creamy mash, carrots and a truffle bordelaise. It was one of the dishes I’d had my eye on and it was so tasty – I tried some of the beef, which just melted in the mouth, while the sauce was super rich (and delicious). Both plates were presented well, and I was very impressed so far.

We all chose puddings and again it was a bit of a dilemma – as I said, they are all homemade, so I wanted them all! In fact, I’m the sort of person that could skip the main course and just have a dessert platter! Ash and I both had the spiced apple and plum pumble – a cross between a pie and a crumble. The chopped fruit filled a pastry base, which was topped with a yummy, buttery crumble mix… heaven! I’m glad we’d ordered one each and didn’t share, as it was divine. I could have eaten it twice.

Apple and plum pumble - a pie and crumble hybrid - with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side
Alfie decided to order from the main menu, rather than the children’s menu for his pudding – going for the sticky toffee. And I don’t think anything could have prepared him, or us, for the sheer size of the dessert! He actually ended up eating the ice cream and all the sticky toffee sauce and having the smallest mouthful of the pudding and I hate wasting food, so felt obliged to help him out. I think we still ended up leaving half of the pudding which was a shame – as the sponge was light and moist. Had I ordered it for myself, I think even I’d have struggled!

I’ve heard good thing about their Sunday roasts, and I’ve also seen on Instagram, there’s a weekly pie night. If you’re local, be sure to check it out – even if it is for a drink and a cake! The Oakley Arms is a lovely village pub and Lizzie and Andy run it so well. We will have to go back again soon.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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